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Engineers Without Borders at MSOE - EWB

Raised toward our $16,000 Goal
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Project has ended
Project ended on January 21, at 11:55 PM CST
Project Owners

MSOE Chapter Of EWB-USA Projects 2021-2022


This is a unique season in the life of EWB-USA MSOE, as we are currently in various stages of two civil engineering projects plus one mechanical engineering project.  

  • Last year's design project for the Chosavic School expansion is currently under construction. 
  • This year's residential water distribution system is in the design phase.  
  • The cardamom dryer efficiency initiative which began years ago is expanding its work beyond the initial swirler design for the heat exchanger unit.  The former project leaders and MSOE graduates Nikky Weise Fujimoto and Ethan Schrag are now mentoring current mechanical engineering students in evaluating another component of the dryer to create an additional incremental improvement to overall dryer efficiency. 

With three projects in progress this year, your support is more important than ever. Not only does your gift to our chapter of EWB-USA support incredible experiences and education for MSOE students, but it allows us to make a lasting, meaningful, and much needed impact on communities in need in Guatemala. These communities are lacking key components that we take for granted such as running water and local schools. Your gift will have a snowball effect helping not only our students, but countless others as well in the communities of Chosavic and El Manantial and the many cardamom farmers and small-holder cooperatives in Guatemala. 

Learn more about our chapter and how we operate in the "Updates" tab above. 

Thank you for supporting our projects!

If you would prefer to give by check, please make it payable to Milwaukee School of Engineering with “Engineers Without Borders MSOE Chapter" in the memo and mail to:

     Milwaukee School of Engineering

     Office of University Advancement 

     Attn: Gift Processing 

     1025 N Broadway 

     Milwaukee, WI 53202

About our Experiences

"The moment on the El Manantial project when our piping network first had a successful run in the design software, everything became real. I couldn't believe I collaborated on the design of a system that would bring clean drinking water to people and our design was working! I can't wait to bring the magic to the community and bring it to life."

     - Molly Stewart, El Manantial Water System Hydraulic Analysis Co-Design Lead

"When I agreed to project manage the water distribution system at El Manantial, I had so little understanding of the impact such a project can have. One of the most outstanding memories from this project so far is discussing with our Responsible Engineer in Charge, Mike Paddock, how we measure success in water projects. Mike talked about a project done in the community of La Garrucha, very nearby to El Manantial. One of the measures of success they used at La Garrucha was community health data collected from the town's midwives; after the implementation of the water system at La Garrucha, the midwives reported that infant mortality had dropped so steeply that only one baby had died in the ten years after the new water system was completed, as compared to multiple babies per year in the time before the water system was installed. This conversation with Mike impressed upon me the gravity of the work ahead of us and how significant an impact we, as a project team, could have on the people of El Manantial"

     - Monique Landry, El Manantial Water System Project Manager

"While traveling on my first trip, I realized the significant impact we were making to the community. Each day all the workers were so uplifting and eager to help out with the project. I could tell they appreciated the work we were doing for them. Knowing that the Guatemalans can now safely cross the river during flooding season to just reach the markets makes me feel accomplished and proud of our work with EWB."

     - Sean Kennedy, El Manantial Water System Drafting Lead

"During my first trip traveling to Guatemala, we worked on the Los Cerritos Schoolhouse to build a school for their community. Every day after work though, we would play with the children who lived across the street. Despite the language barrier, we were able to connect and bond with the children through playing, laughing, and spending time with them. The connection made the project so much more personal knowing that we were able to provide a proper educational environment for them."

     - Beth Mical, Chosavic Schoolhouse Project Manager 

About the Project: El Manantial Water System

The community members of El Manantial, which translates literally as "fountain," ironically have to walk 40 minutes to carry water to their homes six months a year.  Located less than an hour from Joyabaj, the community's 1,050 residents are predominantly K’iche’ speaking Maya.  Most families support themselves by growing crops on the same land that their ancestors have tilled for centuries.  While there are two local springs, they only serve as a reliable source of water during Guatemala’s wet season. In addition to walking forty minutes to fetch water from a nearby river during the dry season, they also must collect extra firewood to boil the water so that it is safe to drink.

The MSOE chapter of EWB-USA is partnering with the Municipality of Joyabaj and El Manantial's Community Development Committee (COCODE) in the design and construction a potable water system for the community, which includes storage, initial treatment, and distribution to each household so that water can be accessed simply by turning on a tap.  

Several prerequisites must be met for a community to be ready to build and maintain such a system.  First, a nearby water source must be found.  To that end, the Municipality of Joyabaj constructed a well.  Well tests revealed that the water was of sufficient quality and quantity to serve the needs of the community.  

Second, the COCODE must organize themselves to develop a water utility, ironing out all the decisions and details related to managing, operating, and funding the system. This process includes a six-month training program which was developed by EWB-USA/Guatemala and is conducted by Guatemalans with experience in community social work.


The water system design is well underway.  MSOE students will continue designing the water distribution, storage, and treatment components of the system throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.

Phase 1: Construction of water storage tank and installation of pump is scheduled to commence the spring of 2022. 

Phase 2, Construction of the water distribution line and installation of home taps is scheduled for the summer of 2022. 

Ultimately, this project will provide each family in El Manantial clean water year-round and eliminate the need to make long trips to the river.  The task of carrying water is historically the job of females. All too often, families are faced with the difficult decision of deciding which children will go to school and which will stay home to carry water.  Residential water taps consistently result in higher female school enrollment.  The ripple effects of having a simple tap at one's home go far beyond the very significant physical health improvements.


This total project cost is currently estimated at $170,000.  


The Municipality of Joyabaj, the community of El Manantial, and the Rotary Club of Milwaukee are all contributing financially towards the total project cost. The estimated amount which the MSOE chapter is responsible for contributing is $16,000.

About the Project: Chosavic Schoolhouse

"If you build it, they will come.”  Just a 15-minute drive from the municipal center of Joyabaj, the community of Chosavic was once nothing more than a sparse area with four households. Much changed when those four households decided to build a soccer (fútbol) field.  Word quickly spread, and people from surrounding areas began arriving, first for soccer games and then to set down roots.   

The first school was then founded in 1967 and was a one-room structure made from adobe, wood, and a clay tile roof (common before the 1976 earthquake).   By 2002, the school had expanded to three masonry classrooms in which 125 students were taught in morning and afternoon shifts.   By 2006, there were 10 classrooms and junior high grades were added.  The current elementary school enrollment is 307 students. The soccer field not only serves for community recreation, but it is also the site for PE classes literally every hour of every school day.

Chosavic now boasts of 350 homes and 2450 inhabitants, most of which are sustained by agriculture, handicrafts, or small businesses.  A select few have formal employment in Joyabaj. Despite the impressive size of the current school, they are still short on space.  Three classes currently meet in improvised spaces lacking walls or even roofs.  It is estimated that at least fifty school-aged children are unable to attend classes due to overcrowding.

The MSOE chapter of EWB-USA is partnering with the school leadership and the Chosavic Community Development Committee (COCODE) in a school expansion project. 

Project Progress:

This past year we designed a five-room school building with bathrooms and a handwashing station. 

Construction began this fall under the direction of an EWB-USA/Guatemala foreman and a volunteer labor crew from the community. We hope to join the community in the spring to help finish the construction and celebrate the opening of the new school rooms.


The construction cost for this project is estimated at $65,000.  We are financially partnering with the Municipality of Joyabaj, the COCODE of Chosavic, and other donors.  The MSOE chapter of EWB-USA has already contributed $15,000 to this project thanks to donations from last year's crowdfunding campaign.  Due to material price increases we are anticipating that more might be needed.

About the Project: Cardamom Spice Dryer

The cardamom trade is an economic lifeline for the country of Guatemala. Its cardamom industry produces 80% of the world’s cardamom trade with an annual yield valued at an impressive $580M.  Approximately 300,000 indigenous smallholder farmers produce almost 70% of Guatemala’s cardamom exports on small plots of 10 acres or less.

Cardamom pods are dried in large industrial driers that consist of a large vat (pila) filled with cardamom and a system that circulates air by means of a diesel engine powered fan through a heat exchanger heated from a firewood combustion chamber. The drying process is a long and inefficient process requiring a significant amount of firewood and diesel. This clearly exacerbates the crises of Guatemalan deforestation and global climate change.

Over the past several years, the MSOE chapter of EWB-USA has partnered with Guatemalan farmers and Heifer International on various projects to improve the efficiency of the cardamom driers. The aim of each project is to create a simple, cost-effective modification to the driers that can be easily implemented by farmers using locally sourced materials and tools. The first project involved small bent pieces of metal we called swirlers which increased the heat transfer efficiency when placed in the heat exchanger tubes. The second project focused on a control valve to regulate the amount of air over the wood fire, allowing the farmers to control the temperature when the drier got too hot. The current project is focusing on decreasing heat loss out of the drier by adding fins at the back of the driers to control the airflow.


The estimated budget for this ongoing series of projects is $1000, which will cover materials and the testing of prototypes.

Our way
of Thanking You


Bridging Barriers

The first 20 gifts of $50 or more will receive a copy of Bridging Barriers. Bridging Barriers is a new book written by Wisconsin resident Mike Paddock of EWB-USA. It details the events of how a Guatemalan community changed its future with help from an EWB-USA chapter to build a bridge and a water project. That said this book is very much a narrative about the human element of humanitarian engineering and displays well the ethics and operation of our organization. For more information visit

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Estimated Delivery: January 2022
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